California · Energy

Calif. Dems answer to July 1 gas tax increase? Form a committee.

With California lawmakers missing a critical deadline to approve legislation to suspend the Golden State’s inflation-tied gas tax increase an estimated 3 cents per gallon, it seemed like little action would be taken

Monday, mere days after a 13-member coalition of Assembly Democrats called on Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic legislative leaders to develop a solution to pause the July 1 gas tax increase, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D–Paramount) announced he developed his own solution to solving California’s sky-high gas prices.

The route? Forming a select committee to study alleged price-gouging in the sale of gasoline.

Rendon announced the formation of the Select Committee on Gasoline Supply and Pricing, according to reports from CalMatters’ Emily Hoeven.

“Californians need more than Band-Aid relief from high gasoline prices,” Rendon said in an announcement.

The committee, to be helmed by Asm. Jacqui Irwin (D–Camarillo), isn’t set to hold its first meeting for “a number of weeks.”

The California State Legislature goes into summer recess on the same day the gas tax increase kicks in, July 1. Lawmakers won’t return to Sacramento until August 1, raising questions of whether the committee will even hold a meeting before the return from recess.

It has two principal questions to probe: why are gas prices so high and what can California lawmakers do to rein in the prices for consumers?

The bureaucratic route toward addressing California’s gas price crisis comes as Rendon is deep in budget negotiations with Gov. Gavin Newsom over how to best dole out California’s $100 billion surplus in response to soaring prices.

Rendon and his Senate counterpart, President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D–San Diego), have strenuously rebuffed efforts by Gov. Gavin Newsom to hold gas tax rates at 2021-2022 levels and are rejecting his proposal to issue tax relief rebates to all California drivers.

Reid Stone is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.